Fill your teacher bag with FREE ready-to-use resources at your fingertips.
Close this search box.

Morning Tubs in the Elementary Classroom

A few years ago, I decided to implement a few NEW things in my daily classroom routine. Morning tubs was at the top of this list and I’m glad I did it! My students are really loving it and so am I!

Morning tubs can be done in so many different ways, with a variety of rules and procedures. What I do in my classroom may not work for you. However, I hope you get a little inspired by some ideas in this post. The goal is to start slow and grow from there. Get a feel for what your students love and add new activities/tubs gradually.

My morning tub routine is fairly simple. We have a flexible seating arrangement in our room so the first thing students do when they walk through the door is hand in their agendas, note from parents, and money (lunch, field trips etc.). They open their agenda and set it on the table and place their notes and money in our messenger basket. Once they have completed their morning job, the can then choose a morning tub to work at.

The only rules for choosing a tub are the following:
– Students can only sit at a table that has an available seat.
– They can’t choose the same tub two days in a row.

Students work as a team to collaborate, plan, create, build, and problem solve. I always ask them to try to build/create one structure TOGETHER. My goal is to encourage children to learn how to work with a team. I also encourage them to share materials with their peers. Sharing is a skill that needs to be practiced over and over again, no matter what grade the are in!


How long do they get to “play”?
Our homeroom time is ten minutes. I set out the tubs (one per table) and students start working on them as soon as they arrive. Students who arrive on time get 10 minutes and late students get less time, depending on how long it takes them to make their way into the classroom.

How many kids work at the same tub?
My tables are set up with 4 seats each so I never have more than 4 students at a tub at a time.

How do you solve disagreements?
Easy! We use “rock, paper, scissors” in my classroom to solve all disagreements. It works so well because they can solve problems on their own without any adult intervention. Giving students responsibility for their learning goes a long way!

How do they clean up?
When the ten minute timer is over, I ask my students to put all their materials back in the tub and we place the tubs on a shelf that is accessible to students.  Choosing shelves that are accessible to students allows them to take responsibility for the organization of our classroom. It’s important that we work together to keep our learning space clean and organized!


I used to get issues with kids complaining about others “breaking their creations”. To fix this, I implemented a simple rule: all structures must be taken apart by the students who built them during clean up time. This way, everyone gets to start fresh the next day and no one complains that someone else broke their work.

What happens if students don’t play fair?
I usually give one warning only during morning tubs. With only ten minutes to plan, create, and problem solve with their team, I expect their behaviour to be acceptable as they do not have enough time to get off track. If a student isn’t following the rules, he/she is removed from the group.

What do you put in your morning tubs?
I have a variety of games that I rotate every week. Here is a list of what i have so far:

  • Linking tubes
  • Magnetic shapes 
  • Lego
  • Tinker toys
  • Math pattern blocks
  • Tangram shapes 
  • Snap cubes
  • Snap flakes 
  • Magnet sticks and balls 
  • Solo cups 
  • Dominoes 
  • Pick up sticks 
  • Uno cards
  • Cards (I usually let them know which game I want them to play that week)
  • White boards with sight words 
  • K’nex 
  • Geoboards 
I got most of the items above from the dollar store and Amazon.


Ready to give morning tubs a try? Start small. Ask parents for donations, apply for grants, ask your principal for help. Some of the items above can be found for cheap at the dollar store. Start with those and add more when you can. The goal is not to have to “coolest” items in your tubs, it is to teach your students to collaborate, communicate, and problem solve with their peers.

Looking for a way to keep kids accountable for their efforts with morning bins? Try reflection tickets!

Share it:


You might also like...